Local Dems Call Foul on Party Endorsement of Props on November Ballot

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg and supporters of the Go Vote No campaign call citizens to vote down the proposed charter amendments during the November elections.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and supporters of the Go Vote No campaign call on citizens to vote down the proposed charter amendments in the November elections.

Several local Democratic party precinct chairs and organizers on Tuesday spoke in opposition to the three propositions San Antonio voters will see on the November ballot and said the Bexar County Democratic Party's endorsement, announced more than a week ago, would be overturned by a forthcoming vote.

While the proposal to endorse the City charter amendments passed at the party's Executive Committee's meeting in August, a majority of the committee's 263 precinct chairs were absent and did not vote, Party Chair Monica Alcántara said in a Sept. 21 statement.

This is just the latest example of infighting between two factions of the local party that stems from the ousting of former chair Manuel Medina earlier this year. Medina lost several party members' support during his controversial bid for mayor in 2016, but a group of so-called "Manuelistas" have made it difficult for Alcántara to effectively run the party, party member have said.

"Democrats were being misled" into supporting the propositions, which were placed on the ballot by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, party member Verna Blackwell said during a press conference Tuesday, adding that working Democrats "are 'say no' Democrats" when it comes to the propositions.

Verna Blackwell speaks to fellow supporters of the Go Vote No campaign during a press conference.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Verna Blackwell speaks to fellow supporters of the Go Vote No campaign during a press conference.

The press conference took place outside Mayor Ron Nirenberg's campaign headquarters on lower Broadway. Most of the speakers, including Blackwell, stated personal opinions rather than speaking on behalf of the party. Its Executive Committee is expected to vote on whether to support the propositions again on Oct. 10, this time with more precinct chairs in the room, Blackwell said.

The propositions would (A) expand the scope of future ballot referenda and lower the threshold for signatures on future ballot petitions, (B) limit the tenure and pay of future city managers, and (C) force binding arbitration on labor contract negotiations between the City and union.

Prop A would mean only 3 percent, rather than 10 percent of voters, could place City Council decision on future ballots. That could put the City at the mercy of special interests, Blackwell said. Citizens elect their City Council members for a reason, she added: to represent them.

Monica Alcantara, Bexar County Democratic Party Chairwoman.

Chairwoman Monica Alcántara / Facebook

Monica Alcantara, Bexar County Democratic Party Chairwoman.

"This is not about Democrats or Republicans or Independents or Libertarians or Rastafarians or vegetarians," Nirenberg said. "This is about making sure that every citizen in San Antonio knows that we work together – the whole community  – to protect our future."

Alcántara did not attend the press conference on Tuesday, but she sent a communication to members and local media outlining her concerns on Sept. 21, the day after the party's endorsement was announced.

"This endorsement has created serious concerns among a significant number of members of the BCDP County Executive Committee (CEC) and Democratic elected officials and candidates," she wrote. "Although the proposal to endorse the City Charter Amendments passed at the August CEC meeting, a majority of the 263 precinct chairs who currently compose the CEC were not present and did not vote.

"The endorsement of the amendments – launched by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters’ [Association] – is particularly concerning because the union has publicly endorsed 21 Republican candidates running in Bexar County ... The endorsement of these charter amendments joins the BCDP with the Firefighters’ Union during an election cycle when they are actively working to elect Republican candidates and working against our goals to 'turn Texas blue.'

"To be clear, the primary goal of the Bexar County Democratic Party is to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot who support fair and livable wages for all workers, healthcare for all citizens as a right of the American people, policies that support a strong public education system and equal pay for women. Historically, the BCDP has remained impartial in non-partisan referendums and local bond issues for this very reason."

Meanwhile, the fire union has yet to come to the negotiating table with the City for a new contract. Officials, particularly union President Chris Steele, have refused to do so before and after the City filed and lost is lawsuit challenging the previous contract's evergreen clause, which keeps the terms in place for 10 years until a new agreement is met.

16 thoughts on “Local Dems Call Foul on Party Endorsement of Props on November Ballot

  1. This is why I support candidates and not parties. Both Bexar County parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – are the gangs that can’t shoot straight and are their own worst enemies. They both suffer from failed leadership. And failed leadership is a result of apathetic and uninformed voters.

  2. We had Quarum and more than usual attenduat the CEC. OUR CHAI R wants to keep voting and voting and voting until she gets what she wants. . She’s taking all the focus away from our candidates with her constant ignoring the majority and refusing to follow the rules. We had begged her to stop it -at least until after November 6. She is relentless with her handful of dissenters. Nothing ever positive.
    Her group (minority’s in the CEC) went to a Meet and Greet at a precinct function for our Democratic candidates and wore their vote no T-shirts. They sat with their arms crossed frowning. Each candidate got up and talked about the need for unity and begged them to stop. But going on and on about the vote yes and vote no -we are taking the fire away from our candidates. It should be nothing now but getting Democrats elected. The CEC legally voted 80% in favor of the firemen.
    Just like we did for pre-K for SA. Also a non-partisan issue. Now we need to MoveOn. It’s done.

  3. The Bexar County Democratic party should not be involved in these types of issues and I assure you that many local Democrats do NOT support the City’s fight with the Fire Union. Manuel Medina was ousted as the chair of the local Democratic party and he had an unsuccessful bid for Mayor. He needs to fade into the background and take his “Manuelistas” with him. Perhaps they should join the Republican tea party. They are more representative of THAT party than they are the Democratic party.

    • I was only referring to Bexar County Democratic Precinct Chairs as the majority.
      We are all free to vote how we want.
      Manuelistas – exactly what I was talking about. Division and hate.
      This does not win elections.
      Please stop.

    • Bexar County Democratic Party absolutely should be involved in these types of issues. That’s what it is: a political party. Ms Scholl, I can assure you that you do not own the truth and do not speak for all local Democrats who mostly support this issue. What is this vicious and malicious obsession with the former chair Medina? He is one of the most successful Chairs in the history of the entire Bexar County Democratic Party’s history and an immigrant at that – quite well esteemed in fact. Kudos to him for running for Mayor and upping the profile of the local party! Even in defeat you can’t stop obsessing about him and projecting all the racist and xenophobic tropes on him. No, I think if anyone needs to go on over to the dark side, it should be you and your Carolista’s that get your hate out of our party and join the Republicans…you sound like the Ted Cruz radio ad already.

  4. Tempest in a teacup. The facts are that the issue was initially brought up at the July BCDP CEC meeting and was tabled until August BCDP CEC meeting giving all members (elected officials – Chair and other officers included) ample time and opportunity to research and make an informed decision on the issue. Issues and how they affect the people. We have voted on issues before such as Paid Sick Leave (support), Pre-K for all (support), NDO (support), etc. and this is no different. Democrats support labor rights, collective bargaining and government transparency hence the overwhelming support for “Vote Yes” on all three amendments. The Bexar County Democratic Party is bound by rules and protocols such as quorum which is mandated by the Texas State Democratic Party. Quorum was not only met at both July and August meetings but was exceeded. Never are all members of the CEC present – and even if they were, it would assuredly pass — again. To insinuate otherwise is wildly speculative and wishful thinking on the small but vociferous minority such as Verna Blackwell – who herself is not involved with the leadership or any standing committee at the party and is the last remanent of the Choco Meza faction that has been persistently toxic at the BCDP for years now – especially in regards to the successful 3 term immigrant chair Manuel Medina. The CEC and the new chair respect each other. The term Manuelista is a derogatory slur that attempts to dehumanize — as if individuals have no mind of their own. Shame on the minority faction that manufactured it and the press for publishing and perpetuating. Should the angry minority be termed Mezota’s? Monicistas? Van DePuttians, etc. as there are many “factions” at the party? Why is this Rivard Report coverage not balanced? Why did the Rivard Report select a rogue precinct chair with a dog and pony show staged at Nirenberg’s campaign headquarters? Same Nirenberg that hired right wing operative Kelton Morgan as his campaign manager? Same right wing operative Kelton Morgan that created the Secure San Antonio’s Future PAC? Same PAC that is funneling big buck donations from right wing donors like Gordon Hartman backing the No campaign? Why not reach out to opposing viewpoint or any elected BCDP leadership? Any thoughts Robert Rivard?

    • Anthony:

      As noted in the article, there was more than one chair at the rally yesterday. We were also at the press conference the union held at the Bexar County Democratic Party’s HQ a couple weeks ago – that was held the same day as the imfamous canceled debate: https://therivardreport.com/fire-union-president-cancels-appearance-at-charter-amendment-debate/

      I understand that you take offense to the term “Manuelista” — it is not my attempt to offend you or other members of that group, but it is how it has been identified. As far as I’m aware, the other “factions” don’t have identifiable names.

      As for Kelton Morgan’s involvement, he is a political consultant and has worked for many campaigns. I can’t speak to his involvement in these. Christian Archer is the campaign manager for Secure San Antonio’s Future PAC.

  5. I am so Proud to have Beautiful People like Teri Gorler and other Strong Democrats Who Are Knocking on Doors , and Phone Banking for Democrats Canidates . Unity against Republicans and Trump! I am PROUD to say that I may not have ever had the best of anything . I may not have the education most of you have. I VOTE for Liberty and Justice for ALL . Mr. Medina was NOT ousted , Democracy at work. Mrs. Alacantara was voted in by Voters in as Bexar County Democrat Chairwoman, She wants respect … that is earned from leading . Not dividing. Lead , Follow or Get The “HECK” OUT of the way!!!!! Go VOTE Democrat and be counted . Educate voters on Propisitions Gordon “Gordy” Hartman SHAME on YOU! Money did change you. Wow , I used to be so proud of you. City of San Antonio do your investigation and use your own judgement and then see if you still want to vote no. It’s time to VOTE YES !!!!

  6. I recommend voting NO to ABC. The language does not really address issues. I can see other language developed by community groups and then garner signatures under current petition rules….Funny insight, true story, I was paying my property taxes this past June at NE office and there were three big guys, informally dressed as firefighters, asking everyone to sign petition for ABC, I asked where they lived: BUDA; I asked are you a fire fighter: NO; I asked did someone hire you: YES…..they were getting tons of signatures.

    • This is why we need to stay connected as a caring group of Americans. We could finger point all day, We must Vote and educate others so they can vote their way. Not tell them just because we say so. The more I learn the better I feel at the end of the day. Money and the people with it can buy television commercials, people who are hungry and need to stand in the same line you do to pay for their own taxes, and this is why signing a petition to make city Council and city manager listen to the voice of the people of San Antonio’s will. City Manager and all other elected officials should have term limits so that at the end of the day, the will of the people are met.

    • Thank You for making my Point. City Manager should NOT have the power she has to RUN San Antonio, Texas as she sees fit. My Hope is that when all is said and done it is because of the will of the citizens of San Antonio have the right to vote on decisions and be hired and move forward. Its very apparent Who Runs Politicians and San Antonio, TX. $$$$$$$$$$ and the Elitist and Entitled.

      • You act as if her power is unchecked. Hardly the case. If she does a poor job her contract isn’t renewed. The reason it keeps getting renewed is because of her stellar job performance. San Antonio is lucky to have her.

  7. I don’t get it. The economy is roaring, employment off the charts, unemployment for minorities all time lows, new great trade deals, manufacturing coming back. And all you folks want to do is vote in people who will destroy all that. ?!?

    • Spoken like a True White Entitled Elites. I believe everyone and I mean everyone, should be respected and dignified, I speak for the many of us who repulse people like you . It truly is a shame you can’t even stay out of our Bexar County Democratic Party.

      • Joan, it is statements like this that will continue to stand in the way of progress. In your world when Ribert opened his/her mouth they were a white elite, with no understanding of background, race, intent, or what their values are. The message could have been anything, would not have mattered.

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